There’s a Better Way…to Divorce
By Tracy Ann Moore-Grant, founder Amicable Divorce Network
Over my years of practice, I have noticed a trend in the attitude couples are taking towards their divorce. There has been a shift away from your stereotypical animosity-filled court battle divorce towards uncontested and amicable divorce. Most Americans first heard of this concept when Gwyneth Paltrow famously announced she was “consciously uncoupling” from Husband Chris Martin 2014. Although many found her choice of words to be humorous, the movement towards “amicable divorce” is on the rise while the divorce rate in the United States has remained around 50%.
An amicable divorce is different from a “traditional divorce” in several respects. Most notably, in an amicable divorce the parties are taking control of their case and working with attorneys, mental health providers and financial professionals to determine what is best for their family as a whole instead of slinging mud at their former partner to then allow a Judge to determine who is right and who is wrong. Parties in an amicable divorce can have complicated finances, children and all the same issues found in any divorce case. However, the amicable approach is to keep matters civil, family focused and out of the court’s hands until the matter is resolved. In short-it’s about attitude not assets.
The shift towards amicable divorce has presented some problems. One of the biggest issues that I have seen are parties turning to online forms and not attorneys to resolve their issues. The problems with online forms are that they are often not compliant with Georgia law and do not have many of the needed protectionary language for the parties to prevent future litigation. I frequently see this issue when one party needs to enforce their agreement against the other or change it in the future. Often the forms are so poorly done it would be impossible enforce them when one party doesn’t comply. Lastly, forms do not provide the details and protections needed when it comes to child support, alimony, real estate, taxes and investment accounts. Often once the documents are finalized in the court system, there is no way to correct or readdress these important issues.
Another hurdle to a successful amicable divorce is the professionals enlisted to help. An unfortunate reality of the legal system is that attorneys make more money the more time they spend on a case and even more if the case has to go to court so it actually isn’t in their financial best interests to advise the quickest and cheapest route to a divorce. I have often had one party to a case represent that both parties want the case resolved efficiently and peacefully, however, I had no way to convey to the other party which attorneys I knew to be reasonable to work with who would not do unnecessary work or drag out the case.
To address these problems, I founded the Amicable Divorce Network. The Amicable Divorce Network brings together amicable-minded family law attorneys, mediators, mental health professionals, financial professionals, parent coordinators, real estate professionals and more to assist parties through the divorce process. Everyone in the network makes a commitment to put the needs of the client first and respect their request to keep their case amicable. Individuals desiring an amicable divorce can visit our website (www.amicabledivorcenetwork.com) to view professionals who are in our group and select the people with whom they want to work. They can receive legal advice for their case specific to them and avoid the many problems that come with online forms and shortcuts. Most of the professionals list their fees on the website so that costs are transparent.
Parties often think they must resolve all of their issues themselves in order to have an amicable divorce and that just isn’t the case. It would be difficult for a layperson to maneuver the Child Support Worksheet or negotiate directly with their spouse on difficult and complex topics. In an Amicable Divorce, parties can still attend a mediation to resolve differences and negotiate in their best interest. What they are agreeing to do is to make every effort to resolve their matter prior to seeking judicial intervention which can be stressful, time consuming and expensive.
The Amicable Divorce process isn’t for everyone and some situations do need the courts to step in and make decisions. Consultation with an attorney can help to guide you on which route is best for you. However, for those parties seeking an amicable end to their marriage, the Amicable Divorce Network is here to show you “There is a Better Way” to divorce.
- Tracy Ann Moore-Grant has been practicing family law in North Georgia since 2002. She is a partner at Patterson Moore Butler in Cumming, Georgia and founder of the Amicable Divorce Network. She is also a mediator, arbitrator and guardian ad litem. You can get more information on her firm’s website at www.PattersonMooreButler.com or directly at the Amicable Divorce Network website at www.AmicableDivorceNetwork.com